Tell YouTube: Protect Your Users. Drop the KKK.
YouTube has a white supremacist problem.
Earlier this month, Motherboard reported that Facebook adopted a policy against white supremacist, white nationalist and white separatist content, yet YouTube and Twitter have failed to take even this most basic action to ensure the safety of their users.1
In fact, YouTube is hosting content from a thinly-veiled media front for the Ku Klux Klan.
Yes, you read that right. YouTube is hosting content from the KKK.
The Ku Klux Klan has active channels on YouTube — some of them hiding in plain sight behind alt-right and white-pride branding. One example is “Alt-RightTV”. The channel is featured on the front page of the KKK website (we checked so you don’t have to) and is supported by Thomas Robb, the national leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
While these groups hide behind language about the “alt-right”, “white nationalism” and “white separatism”, it is just a front. The KKK and neo-Nazi groups conceived of and now use that language to sanitize their image and make themselves palatable.
These channels aren’t just passively putting content up for the world to see either — they are a part of a highly organized effort to recruit people and bring funding into the white supremacist movement.
In early April, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the rise of white nationalism, and YouTube had to disable the chat on the livestream of the hearing because white nationalists overran it.2 Meanwhile, Red Ice (a popular white supremacist conspiracy theory channel) was fundraising off of the livestream.3
While all people have a First Amendment right to free speech, no one is guaranteed a right to be amplified by online platforms. By continuing to host white supremacist groups, YouTube is not only chilling the speech of those often targeted with hate — especially people of color, religious minorities, LGBTQIA+ people and women — it is putting their lives at risk.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently told the New York Times, “We’ll get to a point where we have solved a lot of these issues, and I feel like we’ve already made significant progress.”4 And yet the KKK is still operating on the platform she oversees.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Change the Terms coalition — which Free Press helped found — has developed model corporate policies designed to disrupt hateful activities online.
Tell YouTube: You are still letting White Supremacists and racists run wild and grow their violent movements on your platform. Kick them off. Change the Terms.
You can learn more about the work Free Press and our allies are doing to address online hate at https://www.changetheterms.org.
1. “Twitter and YouTube Won’t Commit to Ban White Nationalism After Facebook Makes Policy Switch,” April 2, 2019, Motherboard: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mbzz8x/twitter-youtube-wont-ban-white-nationalism-facebook
2. “Lawmakers held a hearing on white nationalism. On YouTube, it was immediately attacked with hate speech,” April 9, 2019, NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/hate-speech-hits-youtube-livestreams-house-hearing-rise-white-nationalism-n992386
3. “YouTube Shuts Down Chats After Streams of House Hearing on White Nationalism Are Flooded by White Nationalists,” April 9, 2019, Gizmodo: https://gizmodo.com/youtube-shuts-down-chats-after-streams-of-house-hearing-1833911709
4. “The Most Measured Person in Tech Is Running the Most Chaotic Place on the Internet,” April 17, 2019, New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/business/youtube-ceo-susan-wojcicki.html